Mind and body link • For everything you think in your mind, your body has a reaction, regardless of whether it is real or imagined. • For example, have you ever had a bad dream? • Usually, you will wake up and your heart is racing, you are sweating and very agitated, even though all you were doing was sleeping. • But, in your mind there was something bad going on and your body was reacting to it.
Here’s another example: if you are home alone and you hear a noise and interpret it as the wind, you are fine; but if you interpret it as a prowler, your fight or flight response takes over and you become fearful, your heart begins going a mile a minute, your eyes dilate and you are scared. • These are just a few examples of how strong the connection is between your mind and your body.
Sport Psychology • Scientific study of behavior, affective, and cognitive reactions to sports settings for both participants and fans
Why study psychology for sports? • The difference between elite athletes finishing in first or sixth is sometimes as little as two-tenths of a second. • During these types of sports (100 yard dash) and others, psychological advantages can be the difference between winning and losing.
Why study psychology for sports? • Competition is tight, athletes are physically fit, and the margin for victory is slim. • Managers, coaches and players are realizing that to get ahead they need an added resource, and that resource is a trained mind.
Why study psychology for sports? When there are two teams that are physically equal, it is the team that works together smoothly and is mentally prepared and confident that will come out on top. Keep in mind, though: no mental training will compensate for ineffective technique. You need to be strong, technically and mentally.
Buzz words and theories • Motivation: direction and intensity of one’s effort • Self efficacy: belief you can perform a certain task • Instinctual theories: behavior is motivated by innate predispositions • Drive theory: behavior is motivated by biological needs
Buzz words and theories • Task goals: gain skill, do your best for personal improvement • Ego (outcome) goals preoccupied with the demonstration of superiority compared to others • Arousal: physiological state of readiness • Stress: non-emotional response to an environmental demand
Buzz words and theories Eustress: stress viewed positively Distress: stress viewed negatively
Stress and athletic performance • The increased stress of competitions can cause athletes to react both physically and mentally in a manner which can negatively affect their performance abilities. • They may become tense, their heart rates race, they break into a cold sweat, they worry about the outcome of the competition, or they find it hard to concentrate on the task at hand.
Imagery • Imagery is the process by which you can create, modify or strengthen pathways important to the co-ordination of your muscles, by training purely within your mind. • Involves all senses; visual, kinesthetic, auditory, tactile, moods and emotions
Imagery • Imagery affects cognitive tasks the best (what type of sports would this work best on/in) • Helps both novice and experienced performers, but somewhat more for experienced athletes • Imagery should be used with physical practice • You can manipulate your images so they do what you want them to do
When you can use imagery • An athlete is injured, and cannot train in any other way • The correct equipment is not available, or practice is not possible for some other reason • Where rapid practice is needed
When you can use imagery When you are physically tired, or do not want to tire yourself before a performance Before or after practice and games, or during breaks in the game
Imagery guidelines • Relax • Include all senses • Cover all aspects of your event • Practice it in real time • Practice from an internal perspective and through your own eyes
Implementing Imagery • Initially start using only 5 minutes of imagery a day, perhaps when you have just got into bed, or when you wake up in the morning. • The number of minutes can be expanded as time goes on: typically many champions will do 15 minutes/day, although this may go as high as 1 hour/day just before a major competition.
Implementing Imagery Similarly, start using imagery in a quiet, relaxed environment in which there are few distractions. Slowly experiment with using it in increasingly disturbed situations until you are comfortable with using imagery in the most distracting environments such as high level events.
Watching elite athletes perform • Imagery and simulation can be used effectively in improving technique, particularly when used in conjunction with close study of the technique of high level performers in your sport. • By selecting athletes whose performance you admire in a particular exercise, and either watching or video-taping them executing technique, you can see how they execute every stage of a skill.
Watching elite athletes perform • Using a video recorder you can slow the action down so that the components of the skill can be isolated. • Once you have done this you can practice these components of the skill being observed, and can build them up into a complex action or a good image of the skill as it should be executed.
What imagery can do for you • Imagery allows you to practice and prepare for events and eventualities you can never expect to train for in reality. • It allows you to pre-experience the achievement of goals.
What imagery can do for you • This helps to give you confidence that these goals can be achieved, and so allows you to increase your abilities to levels you might not otherwise have reached. • Practicing with imagery helps you to slow down complex skills so that you can isolate and feel the correct component movements of the skills, and isolate where problems in technique lie.
What imagery can do for you Imagery can also be used to affect some aspects of the 'involuntary' responses of your body such as release of adrenaline. This is most highly developed in Eastern mystics who use imagery in a highly effective way to significantly reduce heart rate or oxygen consumption.
Simulation • Simulation is similar to imagery, but is carried out by making your physical training circumstances as similar as possible to the 'real thing' - for example by bringing in crowds of spectators, by having performances judged, or by inviting press to a training session.
Simulation In many ways simulation is superior to imagery in training, as the stresses introduced are often more vivid because they exist in reality. However simulation requires much greater resources of time and effort to set up and implement.
Buzz words and theories • Self-fulfilling prophesy: what you think will happen, will happen • Ringlemann effect: individual performances will decrease as the amount of people participating increase (examples)
Self-confidence • Benefits of self-confidence are increased concentration, effort and emotions • Optimal confidence: just right • Lack of confidence: self-doubt creates anxiety, causes indecisiveness • Overconfidence may cause you to prepare less (why)
Goal Setting • How it works: • Creates attention and focus • Provides an incentive to reach • Affects psychological factors such as anxiety, confidence and satisfaction
Goal Setting 101 (again) • WRITE DOWN GOALS • Specific goals • Challenging but realistic goals • Long term and short term goals • Set practice and competition goals • Set individual and team goals • Arrange for support (from others, how?)
Common problems in goal setting • Convincing people to set goals • Failing to set specific goals • Failing to adjust goals
The 4C's • Concentration, confidence, control and commitment (the 4C's) are generally considered to be the main mental qualities that are important for successful performance in most sports.
The 4C's Concentration - ability to maintain focus Confidence - believe in one's abilities Control - ability to maintain emotional control regardless of distraction Commitment - ability to continue working to agreed goals
Concentration • This is the mental quality to focus on the task in hand. • If the athlete lacks concentration then their athletic abilities will not be effectively or efficiently applied to the task.
Concentration Research has identified the following types of attention focus: Broad Narrow continuum - the athlete focuses on a large or small number of stimuli Internal External continuum - the athlete focuses on internal stimuli (feelings) or external stimuli (ball)
Concentration • The demand for concentration varies with the sport: • Sustained concentration - distance running, cycling, tennis, squash • Short bursts of concentration - cricket, golf, shooting, athletic field events • Intense concentration - sprinting events, bobsleigh, skiing
Concentration • Common distractions are: anxiety, mistakes, fatigue, weather, public announcements, coach, manager, opponent, negative thoughts etc.
Concentration • Strategies to improve concentration are very personal. • One way to maintain focus is to set process goals for each session or competition. • The athlete will have an overall goal for which the athlete will identify a number of process goals which help focus on specific aspects of the task.
Concentration • For each of these goals the athlete can use a trigger word (a word which instantly refocuses the athlete's concentration to the goal) e.g. sprinting technique requires the athlete to focus on being tall, relaxed, smooth and to drive with the elbows - trigger word could be "technique"
Concentration Athletes will develop a routine for competition which may include the night before, the morning, pre competition, competition and post competition routines. If these routines are appropriately structured then they can prove a useful aid to concentration.
Confidence • Confidence results from the comparison an athlete makes between the goal and their ability. • The athlete will have self-confidence if they believe they can achieve their goal. "You only achieve what you believe.”
Confidence When an athlete has self confidence they will tend to: persevere even when things are not going according to plan, show enthusiasm, be positive in their approach and take their share of the responsibility in success and failure.
Confidence • To improve their self confidence, an athlete can use mental imagery to: • visualize previous good performance to remind them of the look and feel • imagine various scenarios and how they will cope with them
Control • Identifying when an athlete feels a particular emotion and understanding the reason for the feelings is an important stage of helping an athlete gain emotional control. • An athlete's ability to maintain control of their emotions in the face of adversity and remain positive is essential to successful performance. • Two emotions which are often associated with poor performance are anxiety and anger.
Anxiety • Anxiety comes in two forms - Physical (butterflies, sweating, nausea, needing the toilet) and Mental (worry, negative thoughts, confusion, lack of concentration). • Relaxation is a technique that can be used to reduce anxiety. • When an athlete becomes angry the cause of the anger often becomes the focus of attention.
Anxiety • This then leads to a lack of concentration on the task at hand, performance deteriorates, and confidence in ability is lost which fuels the anger - a slippery slope to failure.
Competitive Anxiety • Occurs when the athlete becomes tense or anxious before a game or competition. • This has led coaches to take an increasing interest in the field of sport psychology.
Competitive Anxiety That interest has focused on techniques which athletes can use in the competitive situation to maintain control and optimize their performance. Once learned, these techniques allow the athlete to relax and to focus his/her attention in a positive manner on the task of preparing for and participating in competition.
Anxiety reduction techniques • Breathing control (NBA) • Progressive relaxation: tension then relaxation • Meditation: quieting the mind (Mantra- something to focus on)
Commitment • Sports performance depends on the athlete being fully committed to numerous goals over many years. • In competition, the athlete will have many aspects of daily life to manage. • The many competing interests and commitments include: work, studies, family/partner, friends, social life and other hobbies/sports
Within the athlete's sport, commitment can be undermined by: • a perceived lack of progress or improvement • not being sufficiently involved in developing the training program • not understanding the objectives of the training program • injury